On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, St. Vladimir's associate professor of Systematic Theology Dr. Peter Bouteneff, and Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music Dr. Nicholas Reeves, lectured at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, speaking on the spiritual foundations of composer Arvo Pärt’s music. The two faculty members have been developing The Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir's Seminary since 2011, in an effort to explore the Orthodox roots of the famed Estonian maestro's music.
The seminary's professors were invited to Westminster by senior faculty member Dr. James Jordan, who led the Williamson Voices choir in recording a Grammy-nominated CD, “Annelies.” (The Grammy went instead to the Arvo Pärt CD, "Adam’s Lament.") As his choir is currently drawing on Arvo Pärt’s repertoire, Dr. Jordan invited Dr. Reeves (a Westminster alumnus) and Dr. Bouteneff to enrich the singers’ understanding of Pärt’s Orthodox Christian roots. A 90-minute presentation, accompanied by video presentations, was warmly received.
The choir then performed several short segments for the visiting professors. Dr. Reeves commented, “I was of course moved by the response of the students to the lecture, but I was also deeply impressed by the emotional capacity and control of such a young choir. The Williamson Voices are coming into their own in the America choral scene both here and abroad.”
Collaborative efforts with Mr. Pärt have already resulted in a groundbreaking concert and lecture series in May and June of this year, which included a sold-out concert in Carnegie Hall. Also planned are publications devoted to Mr. Pärt's personal spiritual narrative, and a long-term academic partnership between the Arvo Pärt Centre in Estonia and St. Vladimir's. Dr. Bouteneff says, “It is a joy to continue the work that we have been so deeply engaged in, with the Arvo Pärt Project. I’m delighted to see it finding its place in the seminary’s expanding efforts to engage culture, through the Institute for Sacred Arts that we are currently developing as a key component of the 2020 Strategic Plan.”